The majority of firefighters and paramedics are fearing for their lives while at work, according to a report out of the University of Manitoba.
Six in 10 firefighters and seven in 10 paramedics felt their lives were at risk while engaged in the line of duty in the past year, according to the study lead by Jennifer Setlack. Her research was based on a survey of 117 firefighters and 129 paramedics from the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.
Also, 84 per cent of firefighters and 85 per cent of paramedics felt that they were at risk of serious physical injury while engaged in the line of duty in the past year.
Setlack also found that 10 per cent of firefighters and 19 per cent of paramedics had significant difficulties with post-traumatic stress disorder, and 26.4 per cent to 27.9 per cent of paramedics indicated moderate to extreme levels of depression, anxiety and stress.
Nearly six in 10 (58 per cent) of firefighters and 86 per cent of paramedics also experience exhaustion-related burnout, and 68 per cent of firefighters and 88 per cent of paramedics experience disengagement-related burnout.
“The main findings of this study are that firefighters and paramedics both demonstrate high levels of psychopathology and burnout, with paramedics showing slightly higher levels of both,” said Setlack. “These differences may in part be due to the different types and magnitude of workplace violence experienced by both groups and the greater association of workplace violence on mental health found for paramedics.”
Setlack also said that her findings can help inform emergency services departmental policies, which can act to better protect firefighters and paramedics.